JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

August 6, 2012
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Golden, CO USA
Review by Mark Osler
Photos by Mark Osler

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

If anything, Neil Young is unpredictable. It's the one constant in his life that fans have come to expect from him over the some 45 years his creative juices have been flowing. With that said, it came as absolutely no surprise that once Neil and the band hit the stage, the audience was NOT going to be witnessing a greatest hits show featuring fabled tunes from Young's storied past. It just wasn't going to happen. Hell, it's never going to happen.

Such is the allure of Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse.

There comes a point in time where you would think a 66-year old musician would want to celebrate his grand legacy and give his rabid fan base what they want. To be quite frank, Neil Young did just that. The cantankerous artist gave his fans what they didn't expect, which is exactly what they were expecting. He celebrated this evening in style with a rollercoaster ride of songs that included the new (" Ramada Inn"," Psychedelic Pill", "Twisted Road", "Born in Ontario") interspersed with the old ("Needle and the Damage Done", "Cinnamon Girl","Powderfinger", "Mr. Soul").

The sounds echoing out of Red Rocks this evening weren't going to include any of Young's classics like "Heart of Gold", "Old Man", "Down by the River"," "Harvest" "Cortez the Killer", "Rockin' in the Free World" or even "Ohio". Don't get me wrong, it would have been great had any of those songs made the set list. However, none of them were good enough to be included in this two hour show (which in itself is short of Crazy Horse concert standards). Nope, tonight's entertainment was a mix bag of musical treats that would leave the die-hards ecstatic and the Neil newbies somewhat dazed and totally confused.

There were some instances where you could empathize with those wanting to hear Young relive some of his past musical glories. When the band - Frank Sampedro on guitar, Billy Talbot bass and Ralph Molina on drums - spent almost 25 minutes jamming to a new number entitled "Walk Like a Giant", it was a bit too much. Listen, I can defend Neil Young up to a point when it comes to performing previously unreleased material. The thing is, when you have people paying top dollar (anywhere from $50 to $275 in major markets) to see you in concert, how about saving this type of moment for when the album has actually been released, which in this case is October. The band could have easily spent this precious time performing "Cowgirl in the Sand", "Like a Hurricane" and "Southern Man" before "Walk Like a Giant" even ended. Yes, it was somewhat selfish on Young's part to expose this crowd to this lengthy tune. I'm sure some of the more 'serious' Young fans out there will frown upon that statement. Then again, self-indulgence is part of the Crazy Horse allure.

I did think it was pretty interesting how the band could redefine a traditional folk song like "She'll Be Coming around the Mountain", otherwise known as "Jesus' Chariot" from last June's release Americana. It was the only tune Neal performed from his 34th album, a collection of reinterpreted traditional folk classics. Somehow the band turned this little gospel-tinged ditty into a dark ten-minute celebration on stage that these musicians deftly pulled off. And since it was the first encore number, it was a nice lead in to "Roll Another Number" off the band's 1975 masterpiece, Tonight's the Night.

I hate to say this, but I'm going to have to put a 'buyer beware' disclaimer on this review. The song selection listed below is pretty much set in stone for what you're going to see from Neil Young & Crazy Horse in concert. If it excites you, then by all means purchase the tickets and prepare to be blown away by the show. However, if you're planning on paying top dollar on the expectations you're going to hear a selection of tunes from Young's storied catalogue of hits, forget it, not going to happen here. Let me emphasize this one more time. Do not waste your money, or your time, if you think Neil Young is going to perform a series of songs ala his Decade album. All you'll end up doing is cursing yourself for spending hard-earned money on for a concert that didn't live up to your expectations. This tour is for the serious Crazy Horse fan.

But 'hey hey, my my,' this IS Neil Young's rock and roll. The eclectic way in which he chooses to present it on stage will never die.


Set List
Love and Only Love
Powderfinger
Born In Ontario
Walk Like a Giant
The Needle and The Damage Done
Twisted Road
For The Love of Man
Ramada Inn
Cinnamon Girl
Fu**ing Up
Psychedelic Pill
Mr. Soul
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
Encores
Jesus' Chariot
Roll Another Number

Intermission
Twisted Road
For The Love of Man
Ramada Inn
Cinnamon Girl
Fu**ing Up
Psychedelic Pill
Mr. Soul
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
Encores
Jesus' Chariot
Roll Another Number